Board/Administrator Decision-Making Guidelines

Dec 4, 2014

by Bob Thompson

Many issues come before an administrator during the course of his/her career, most of which are not controversial.  However, there are always a few that become major issues with the employees, board, parents, community, or special interest groups.  The following guidelines can assist in putting the proposed solution into proper perspective (i.e. determining the “readiness factor”) before you make a final decision.  In short, no matter how important the decision, if there is not a readiness to implement and accept it, it will fail.  It is best to exercise patience until the decision is acceptable.

After clearly identifying the issue to be decided and the most logical solution (or solutions), rate the proposed solution(s) against a set of criteria using aone to ten scale:  (1 = low and 10 = high).  The higher the total score, the more it is worth the effort to make and implement the decision.  If the score is low the proposed solution should probably be postponed or rejected because of it doesn’t meet the “readiness” standard.

Below are some decision screening criteria written in the form or questions.  By rating the proposed solution against these criteria, the “readiness factor” can be determined.

  1. Objectivity: How objective am I (are we)?  (How much of my thinking is governed by my assuming the role of “parent” to the group and doing what is “best” for them even though they don’t see it right now?  In short, do I really believe it is “their kids, their school, and their money” and that they (as “owners of the schools”) have the right to make a “wrong” decision)?
  2. Importance: On a scale of one to ten, how important is this decision to the long-term future of the district?  (For example, whether the new building will be on the east side of the road or the west side is not likely to impact student achievement in the years to come, but the curriculum you choose may have a major impact.)
    (A high score indicates the decision is very important to the future of the district).
  3. Success: On a scale of one to ten, what confidence do we have that this decision will actually accomplish the objective it was designed to accomplish?
    (A high score indicates a high confidence of success).
  4. Return on Investment: If there is a financial cost to the decision, on a scale of one to ten how much benefit will children receive in relation to the size of the investment?
    (A high score indicates a large benefit to a large number of children for a relatively small cost).
  5. Doableness: Is the decision “doable” i.e. do we have the resources (staff, facilities, time, money, etc.) to implement the decision?  (On a scale of one to ten how easy will it be to implement the decision once it is made)?
    (A high score indicates we have adequate staff, technical expertise, time, and other resources necessary to implement the decision once it is made.)
  6. Political Acceptability: On a scale of one to ten, how acceptable will this decision be in the community?  (A politically unacceptable decision is one that would cause a severe loss of community trust and support, board dissension, etc.).
    (A high score on this item indicates the decision will be very acceptable and few if any political losses will result from the decision.  A low score indicates there will be a significant loss of community trust and support, board unity, etc).
  7. Durability: On scale of one to ten, what are the odds the decision will stand up over time, i.e. will not be reversed by a future board?
    (A high score indicates future boards will continue to support the decision).